Ipe: Wood—or Metal? Keene NH
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Ipe: Wood—or Metal?
Ipe: Wood—or Metal?
Ipe (pronounced E-pay) is a South American wood as exotic as its name.When you hold a piece, you know it's something special. Ipe sinks inwater like cast iron, is hard as nails and polishes like brass. Ofcourse, you don't really have to weld it, but working with ipe may makeyou question your sanity. Is it wood or metal? For an exotic wood, it'snot terribly expensive. A 1-in.-thick board typ-ically costs about $6per board foot. You can buy ipe almost anywhere in the United States,but most woodworkers have never heard of it. Ipe is used for decks andoutdoor structures because it's extremely rot-resistant, dries withoutwarping, is free of knots and won't wear out. It's available instandard dimensions, such as 1x6 and 2x4. Deck offcuts are a blast toexperiment with. Ipe is marketed under a number of names. Dealers callit Ironwood, Diamond Deck, Pau Lope and Tiger Deck. It's sold asBrazilian walnut in the interior flooring business. To mail-order ipe,or to find a dealer nearest you, contact Cecco Trading, (414) 445-8989,www.ironwoods.com.
Use It Inside or Out
Ipe can be used for indoor or outdoor furniture. It's so heavy thatthis deck chair will never blow over in the wind! Ipe is useful aroundthe shop, too, because it's so hard and strong. An ipe carver's malletlasts a lifetime. Ipe drawer runners never wear out. Best of all, anipe workbench is downright awesome. Talk about sturdy!
New Hemisphere, (866) 210-0567, www.ipe-furniture.com
Wait 'Til It's Dry
Ipe isn't dried for interior use. The moisture content (MC) of ipe decking boards is fairly high, about
17 percent. This MC is appropriate for outdoor furniture, but higherthan the 12 percent MC of air-dried hardwoods destined for indoor use.It's easy to air-dry ipe yourself by stacking it indoors. Monitor itsMC with a moisture meter. (To get a correct reading, adjust for ipe'shigh specific gravity: 0.92.)
Dig for Beautiful Boards
Some ipe boards are absolutely stunning. You'll find a wide variety ofcolor and figure in a random pile of ipe, so good boards are worthdigging for. Ipe's color ranges from olive green to chocolate brown.Check out the unusual internal structure called interlocked grain inthe board above. Here, the slope of the grain alternates directionevery few growing seasons. This is a spectacular example of grainthat's both curly and interlocked. Pencil-stripe interlocked grain ismore common in ipe.
This is Strong Wood!
Every which way you look at it, ipe is an extreme wood. It's about 70percent stiffer than hard maple. Outdoor furniture made from cedar,redwood and treated pine must have thick parts for strength, but ipefurniture can have the thin lines of metalwork. So be daring! Theslender legs on this patio table are only 7/8 in. square.
It's One Tough Cookie
Go ahead:?Bang on it. Ipe is two to three times as hard a...